Multiple epiphyseal dysplasias (MED) are a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of skeletal dysplasias with a predominant lesion in the epiphyses of tubular bones. Variants in the SLC26A2 gene cause their autosomal recessive form (rMED or MED type 4). The accumulation of data regarding the genotype−phenotype correlation can help in the diagnosis and proper management of these patients. The aim of this study was to survey the clinical and genetic characteristics of 55 patients with MED type 4 caused by variants in the SLC26A2 gene. Diagnosis confirmation was carried out by radiography and custom panel sequencing consisting of 166 genes responsible for the development of hereditary skeletal pathology. This was followed by the validation of the identified variants using automated Sanger sequencing (for six patients) and the direct automatic Sanger sequencing of the coding sequence and the adjacent intron regions of the SLC26A2 gene for 49 patients. Based on the clinical and genetic analysis of our sample of patients, two main MED type 4 phenotypes with early and late clinical manifestations were identified. An early and more severe form of the disease was observed in patients with the c.835C > T variant (p.Arg279Trp), and the late and milder form of the disease was observed in patients with the c.1957T > A variant (p.Cys653Ser) in the homozygous or compound heterozygous state with c.26 + 2T > C. It was also shown that only three pathogenic variants were found in 95.3% of the alleles of Russian patients with MED type 4: c.1957T > A (p.Cys653Ser), c.835C > T (p.Arg279Trp), and c.26 + 2T > C; thus, it can be assumed that the primary analysis of these variants will contribute to the optimal molecular genetic diagnostics of MED type 4.
Keywords: SLC26A2 gene; multiple epiphyseal dysplasia type 4; pathogenic variants; phenotype variability.